Monday, January 23, 2017

Velazquez, Retherford lead Aguilas to win; LMP title set tied

Reinforcement pickup pitcher Hector Velazquez took a shutout into the eighth inning and C.J. Retherford cracked a two-run homer to lead the Mexicali Aguilas to a 7-3 victory over the Los Mochis Caneros Sunday night as 10,835 spectators nearly filled Mochis' Estadio Emilio Ibarra Almada.  The Mexican Pacific League championship series is now tied at a game apiece as the teams head north to Mexicali for the next three scheduled games.

Mexicali 7-11-1, LOS MOCHIS 2-7-1

Velazquez, who won the MexPac wins and strikeouts titles during the regular season, and Los Mochis opener Manny Barreda, who tossed the LMP's sole no-hitter, kept the contest scoreless until the top of the third, when Mexicali pushed three runs across the plate.  Ramon Rios led off with a single to left against Barreda, then moved to third when Chris Roberson lined a ground-rule double over the fence in right center.  After Jason Bourgeois struck out swinging for the first out, Yuniesky Betancourt hit a sacrifice fly to Eugenio Velez in left, bringing Rios in with the first run of the game while Robo stayed put at second.  That brought up Retherford, who belted Barreda's first pitch over the left field wall for a two-run homer to open the Aguilas' lead to 3-0.  Luis Juarez struck out to end the inning, but the early lead ended up good enough with Velazquez having his way with the Mochis lineup.

Barreda lasted into the top of the seventh, when Caneros manager Luis Sojo brought in Isaac Jimenez after Manny opened the inning by walking Yordanys Linares on five pitches and (after whiffing Xorge Carrillo) issuing another free pass to Rios.  Jimenez then walked Roberson to load the bags before a Bourgeois sac fly forced in Linares from third, bringing the score to 4-0 in favor of the visitors.  The entrada ended on a Betancourt fielder's choice groundout to third.  Velazquez left the game after striking out Sebastian Valle to open the eighth with the shutout intact.  2016 LMB Rookie of the Year Isaac Rodriguez later hit a two-run homer off off Jose Manuel Lopez to bring Los Mochis to within two, but Mexicali came back to post three more runs in the top of the ninth to put the contest out of reach for good with RBI singles by Bourgeois and Retherford and a run-scoring double by Juarez to give the Aguilas a 7-2 lead.  Mexicali skipper Roberto Vizcarra sent three different pitchers to the mound in the bottom of the frame, with 2015-16 LMP Pitcher of the Year Javier Solano coming in to record the final two outs, striking out Juan Carlos Gamboa swinging to end the game.

Velazquez was superb for the Aguilas, letting up just four hits and no walks while striking out 10 Mochis batters in 7.1 innings for his second win of the postseason.  Sixty-eight of his 88 pitches went for strikes.  Barreda took the loss, allowing four runs on four hits, four walks and a hit batsmen over 6.1 frames.  Bourgeois finished 2-of-4 with three RBIs, Roberson had two hits and scored twice and Retherford added a single to his two-run bomb for Mexicali.  Rodriguez and Saul Soto each had two hits for the Caneros.

Monday will be a travel day, with Game Three of the title series set for Tuesday night at 7:30PM PST (0330 UTC) at Mexicali's Estadio B'Air.